Abandoned and little-known airfields

Since 2002, Paul Freeman has maintained Abandoned & Little-Known Airfields, a website for collecting information on such venues and their often-unusual histories. Many are kept in safe-enough shape for emergency landings even if they are otherwise forgotten, the ultimate liminal infrastructure. [via Hacker News]

As a pilot, a particular interest of mine has always been the abandoned airfields that dot the landscape of much of this country. Both for their potential safety value to a pilot in an emergency, and also for their sometimes fascinating history, this particular topic has always held my curiosity. When I'm a passenger on commercial flights, I've always found myself looking out the window, constantly looking for airfields below. When I fly as a pilot myself, I've always tried to land at as many airports as possible, to learn a little about each one.

Some, though, have disappeared under new growth, natural or otherwise. Like the airfield in McKeesport, a suburb of Pittsburgh.

An early Mifflin Township resident, Barr Peat, lived quite near to the end of a field where early barnstorming aviators would land. One day a plane landed in the field, and the grass was so high that the pilot did not see a tree stump & crashed his plane on landing. This planted the seed into Barr Peat's mind that there ought to be an airport around here somewhere. When Barr Peat looked down from this grassy meadow at the top of the hill he noticed a big beautiful pasture directly below. This 144 acre property was owned by Harry Neel. Barr Peat contacted Neel, who was a personal friend, and made a deal in 1924 to allow planes to land on his property.

This began a 25 year span for the flying field.